Another day, another loss in Cincinnati, as the Reds walked off against the Dodgers following another comeback.
While not quite as bad as Tuesday, the Dodgers led by four runs early on against the Reds before Noah Syndergaard surrendered the lead in the 3rd. An offense that scored six runs in the first three innings managed just one base runner in the final six innings and fell 8-6 on Wednesday.
Perhaps realizing they would need plenty of runs to survive against the Reds with Syndergaard on the mound and a bullpen that allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings last night, the Dodgers offense got to work right away.
Mookie Betts continued to climb up the career lead-off home run list with another, sending Brandon Williamson‘s 3-2 fastball out to left center. That’s 42 for Betts in his career, just two behind Brady Anderson for eighth and six back of fifth-place Ian Kinsler. Of those 42, 22 have already come with the Dodgers.
That happiness was fleeting as the 2-0 lead lasted just 12 pitches from poor Syndergaard. Once again allowing runs with two away, Syndergaard needed just 10 pitches to get a pop out and ground out on very weak contact. Those outs came around a single by Matt McLain, which is really a double against Syndergaard as he immediately took second. Ultimately the steal didn’t really matter since McLain could score easily when the ball goes 458 feet.
I mean after last night, everyone should have placed a bet on Elly De La Cruz hitting one out. The 114.8 mph off the bat was amazingly only 9 mph slower than the first two outs of the inning combined. The exit velocities of 66 mph, 57.3 mph, 55.7 mph actually looked pretty great for Syndergaard as he leaned on a pretty even split of cutters, sinkers and fastballs with a single change and curve leading to outs in the 1st.
Doing his best Syndergaard impersonation, Williamson handed the lead right back to the Dodgers in the top of the 2nd. Miguel Vargas took a 2-1 change to almost the exact same part of the park as Smith’s double, but got it over the wall for the 3-2 lead.
Apart from allowing another single (double after another steal), the 2nd inning went much better for Syndergaard. The leadoff single was left stranded at second as he got Stuart Fairchild swinging through a change and Will Benson swinging at a curve around another weak grounder at 79.7 mph.
Syndergaard’s scoreless inning allowed the Dodgers to actually build on their lead as they put up runs for the third straight inning to open the game. After drilling a first-pitch fastball for a double in the first, Smith sent a first-pitch slider 358 feet to the opposite field for a two-run homer following a Freddie Freeman single (that was advanced to second on a fielding error) to open the 3rd.
Williamson fell behind J.D. Martinez with a pair of pitches well outside the zone before laying in a cutter that was sent straight to left field at 107.6 mph for a double. A walk for Muncy and a double for Vargas added another as the Dodgers expanded the lead to 6-2, but a line out and ground out ended the 3rd without any more damage.
Syndergaard’s 3rd inning and second time through the order didn’t go as smoothly as the 2nd.
McLain got to Syndergaard again to open the Reds half of the 3rd, tripling to left center on an 0-2 curve. Syndergaard got ahead of McLain with a curve and a sinker, but a pair of foul balls against a fastball and change set up the leadoff triple. A sacrifice fly made it 6-3 with another 2-2 triple, this time for De La Cruz, placing another man in scoring position.
Spencer Steer brought him home one pitch later with a single (double) to center and took second a few pitches later, which just made his walk home on Tyler Stephenson‘s game-tying, two-run homer a bit shorter. Syndergaard finally escaped the inning by getting a fly out and Fairchild looking at a 3-2 fastball, but continued to prove how much trouble he has putting anyone away.
Through his 3 innings, four of Syndergaard’s seven hits allowed came with two strikes in the count. That included three in the 3rd inning, as McLain and De La Cruz sent curves into the gap and Stephenson got a “sinker” that had just 14 inches of vertical break to match his typical fastball.
Finished at 3 innings with the six runs on seven hits and no walks, Syndergaard got 44 strikes among his 66 pitches. That was about an even split of fastballs and changes, with the sinker and curve mixed in as well. Syndergaard threw six cutters, but abandoned the pitch after Newman opened the 2nd with the single against it. The pitch sat 86-87 for the first three, and then fell to 85-84 for the second three, all well below his season average of 89.4 mph.
With Williamson remaining in the game and retiring the Dodgers in order for the 4th and 5th, the Dodgers turned to the bullpen to slow down the Reds offense.
Alex Vesia allowed a leadoff single in the 4th, but then retired the next three including the final two on swinging strikeouts. Nick Robertson made his major league debut in the 5th, striking out De La Cruz on three straight pitches and finished the inning off the inning in order with a fly out and ground out.
Robertson remained in for the 6th, striking out Newma and Fairchild before ending the inning with a ground out from T.J. Hopkins. Using 15 fastballs and seven changes, Robertson got the two misses on seven swings with 15 of his 22 pitches going for strikes.
With the scoring stalled at 6-6 for three innings, Brusdar Graterol entered in the 7th to try to keep the game even. Graterol escaped exit velocities of 100 and 105.6 mph with the bases empty thanks to Muncy starting a double play, and put down De La Cruz with a slider in the dirt. Yency Almonte was then given the 8th and recorded two outs before allowing a double to left, but got a grounder to short to end the inning.
Last recording a hit in the 3rd inning, on Vargas’ RBI double, the Dodgers offense had 15 of 16 batters retired from the 4th to the 8th, with only Jonny DeLuca reaching on a walk. That led to facing Alexis Diaz in the 9th, with David Peralta and Jason Heyward going down swinging against sliders and Betts flying out to center.
That set the table for the Reds, and after an infield single against Evan Phillips opened the 9th, Benson did this on a 2-2 cutter.
The Dodgers and Reds wrap up the three-game series in Cincinnati at 9:35 a.m. PT on SportsNet LA and MLB Network as Clayton Kershaw faces Graham Ashcraft looking to avoid a sweep and snap the four-game losing streak.